PETER DOIG (B. 1959)
PETER DOIG (B. 1959)
PETER DOIG (B. 1959)
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Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY OF A PRIVATE BRITISH COLLECTOR
PETER DOIG (B. 1959)

Some Houses on Iron Hill

Details
PETER DOIG (B. 1959)
Some Houses on Iron Hill
signed, titled and dated ‘PETER DOIG 92 ‘SOME HOUSES on IRON HILL’’ (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
28 x 21in. (71 x 53.4cm.)
Painted in 1992
Provenance
Whitechapel Gallery, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1992.
Special notice

Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent.

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Lot Essay

Held in the same private collection since its creation, Some Houses on Iron Hill (1992) is a rare and exquisite rediscovery relating to Peter Doig’s early masterpieces Iron Hill (1991) and Hill Houses (1990-1991, British Council Collection). Never before seen in public, it translates the respective white and ochre palettes of its predecessors into vivid red and blush pink tones, echoing the colours of his seminal work Rosedale (1991), completed during the same period. Against a horizon lined with fir trees, two lonely houses flicker in and out of focus, their forms veiled by bare branches and icy snowflakes. Car headlights stream down the right hand side of the composition, all sense of perspective warped to the point of abstraction. Created shortly after Doig’s receipt of the Whitechapel Artist’s Award—and the accompanying exhibition that propelled him to critical acclaim—the work captures the flourishing of his early artistic language. Both the isolated cabins and gently falling snow would become signature elements of his practice, reminiscent of his childhood in Canada. So too would the hypnotic jostle between abstraction and figuration, mimicking the slippery mechanics of memory itself. Alive with texture and colour, it is a sumptuous variation on one of Doig’s most important early images, setting the tone for his future practice.

Doig was born in Scotland, but moved to Trinidad with his family at an early age before settling in Canada. He relocated to London to attend art school aged 19, returning to Montreal for a brief period during the mid-1980s before coming back to the UK to complete his MA at Chelsea School of Art. During this period, Canada—with its vast, sprawling wildernesses—loomed large in his imagination. While flicking through a copy of National Geographic, Doig came across an image of hillside houses next to Route 1 between Van Buren and Caribou in Maine. It resonated with a landscape recalled from his youth: an area known as Iron Hill. The sense of a memory stirred from an unrelated image would come to play an important role in his practice, with film stills, postcards and found photographs all becoming conduits to paintings saturated with recollections of his childhood. Major works including Charleys Space (1990), The Architects Home in the Ravine (1991) and The House that Jacques Built (1992, Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art) would all spring from this approach; the various versions of the present image—including Hill Houses (Green Version) (1991)—also attest to the sense of cyclical déjà-vu that would come to define the works of this period, notably the celebrated Concrete Cabins series.

As well as evoking the Canadian landscape, motifs such as cabins and falling snow played a structural role in Doig’s art. Here, the isolated dwellings quiver with anthropomorphic charge, the presence of their unseen inhabitants keenly felt. The geometry of their frames is offset by the gentle flurry of flakes, which—as in other paintings from this period—generate a sense of near-televisual distortion. This kind of ‘screen’ became an important device for Doig, embodied elsewhere in tangled forests and branches: by forcing the viewer to look through the chaos, the artist mimics the visceral sensation of looking back through the fog of one’s psyche. This impression is enhanced by Doig’s vivid dialogue with art history, with faint echoes of Gerhard Richter’s squeegeed abstracts, Edvard Munch’s atmospheric landscapes, Pieter Bruegel’s snow-filled scenes and the dappled surfaces of Claude Monet shifting in and out of focus like half-forgotten recollections. The composition’s underlying armature of vertical and horizontal bands is held in tension with rich passages of painterly gesture, thick with impasto and near-Pointillist dabs of colour. It is a thrilling meditation on the shape and texture of memory, filtered through the lens of Doig’s own past.

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